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Watch for children, buses

Despite all the changes we have experienced over the past several months, the time of year has arrived when students are heading back to school.

Classes may be somewhat unconventional. Some districts are welcoming all their students back at once to attend classes five days a week. Others are using a more measured approach, separating students into groups that only attend in person on certain days of the week.

In some cases, parents are opting to keep their children at home and help them with online learning.

But anywhere that schools are open, children must be transported to and from those buildings. That means those familiar yellow school buses are taking to local roads once again. In fact, bus schedules for two local school districts can be found on pages A2 and B3 of today’s edition.

As buses begin to roll again, it is incumbent on other motorists to remember to play by the rules — and to go above and beyond the standard methods of safe driving in an effort to protect our children.

Youngsters of all ages are excited to return to the classroom each year. They are happy to see their friends and thrilled to get a little freedom from Mom and Dad.

This year, that probably is more true than ever, since the school year ended abruptly in March and children went home to complete their learning, due to the threat of COVID-19.

Those young people have been taught how to cross streets safely and to wait for signals from their bus drivers, but as adults we cannot reasonably expect them to remember and apply those lessons all of the time.

Drivers need to be alert to school bus traffic, especially in the early mornings and late afternoons. Remember that when the stop sign arm on a bus extends and its lights begin to flash, traffic following the bus and traffic coming from the other direction all needs to stop to allow students to be loaded or unloaded safely.

Other motorists should never pass a school bus that is stopped with its signals activated.

Drivers also need to remember that a child who has just exited a school bus may suddenly recall that they forgot their backpack on board. They might just dash into the street in an effort to catch back up to the bus and retrieve their belongings.

Children also may become distracted by reunions with friends at bus stops or by a passing animal or insect. Nearly anything could cause them to make a mistake and put themselves in harm’s way.

That is why drivers must remind themselves to always be vigilant around school buses and bus stops. Taking extra time and precautions could save a life.

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